US to Britain: Say hello to Hezb'allah for us

This is naive on so many levels that one has to wonder about the mental health of officials in the British Foreign Office.

They believe that talking with Hezb'allah, the Lebanese terrorist outfit funded almost exclusively by Iran, is something like talking to terrorists in the IRA.

Britain likens the attempt to engage Hizbullah, launched quietly this year, to London's outreach to political leaders of the Irish Republican Army earlier - a move that helped quell the Northern Ireland conflict.

"We have a different approach on this issue at the moment with the United States," he said. "But it's not an issue of disagreement in intentions. The feedback we had on Lebanon is that the Americans are comfortable with us doing things differently than they are at the moment."

Senior US officials privately have mocked and publicly rejected the British decision. "Our position on Hizbullah remains unchanged," Jeffrey Feltman, the US deputy assistant secretary of State for Near East affairs, told lawmakers last month. "We see no distinction between the leadership and funding of the group's terrorist, military, political and social wings.

Another British diplomat said George W. Bush administration officials harshly criticized the idea of approaching Hizbullah last year. Americans worried "it would be seen as a policy coordinated with the US government," the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Although the Obama administration rejects the British approach, Rammell said initial US alarm has given way to curiosity and that there is "no antagonism" between the two allies over the issue. Rammell's areas of responsibility include the Middle East, Afghanistan and North America, according to the Web site of Britain's Foreign Ministry.

The IRA - most factions anyway - tried very seriously to avoid civilian casualties whenever possible. They usually gave warnings if they were going to hit a civilian target (Harrod's Department store) or exclusively targeted military, police, and government facilities.

Hezb'allah, on the other hand, glories in civilian deaths, deliberately targets civilians, and never issues a warning.

Gee - I can see where the Brits think they can talk to the Hezzies the same way they talked to the provis.

And as far as the US being "curious" about how British efforts at talking to the religious fanatics in Hezb'allah will go, it sounds as if our State Department is as clueless as the Brits are. Any idea that we should be talking with them was addressed by Feltman, our former Ambassador to Lebanon and a very effective diplomat. When he says "We see no distinction between the leadership and funding of the group's terrorist, military, political and social wings" he is aware that the funding is almost entirely from Iran as is the training of their militia. Hassan Nasrallah, the terrorist group's leader, no doubt will enjoy the legitimacy granted by the British which should serve him well when elections are held at the end of next month. It cuts secular Lebanese Christians and Sunnis off at the knees who have been trying to convince wavering countrymen that electing Hezb'allah would be the same as electing the Iranian ayatollahs. Now the Hezzies can point to the British (and indirectly at us) as recognizing them as a legitmate political party.

The Brits and the US have apparently decided to throw the Lebanese under the bus. And the consequence will be Iran having a proxy in charge of a government bordering Israel and the Med.



This is naive on so many levels that one has to wonder about the mental health of officials in the British Foreign Office.

They believe that talking with Hezb'allah, the Lebanese terrorist outfit funded almost exclusively by Iran, is something like talking to terrorists in the IRA.

Britain likens the attempt to engage Hizbullah, launched quietly this year, to London's outreach to political leaders of the Irish Republican Army earlier - a move that helped quell the Northern Ireland conflict.

"We have a different approach on this issue at the moment with the United States," he said. "But it's not an issue of disagreement in intentions. The feedback we had on Lebanon is that the Americans are comfortable with us doing things differently than they are at the moment."

Senior US officials privately have mocked and publicly rejected the British decision. "Our position on Hizbullah remains unchanged," Jeffrey Feltman, the US deputy assistant secretary of State for Near East affairs, told lawmakers last month. "We see no distinction between the leadership and funding of the group's terrorist, military, political and social wings.

Another British diplomat said George W. Bush administration officials harshly criticized the idea of approaching Hizbullah last year. Americans worried "it would be seen as a policy coordinated with the US government," the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Although the Obama administration rejects the British approach, Rammell said initial US alarm has given way to curiosity and that there is "no antagonism" between the two allies over the issue. Rammell's areas of responsibility include the Middle East, Afghanistan and North America, according to the Web site of Britain's Foreign Ministry.

The IRA - most factions anyway - tried very seriously to avoid civilian casualties whenever possible. They usually gave warnings if they were going to hit a civilian target (Harrod's Department store) or exclusively targeted military, police, and government facilities.

Hezb'allah, on the other hand, glories in civilian deaths, deliberately targets civilians, and never issues a warning.

Gee - I can see where the Brits think they can talk to the Hezzies the same way they talked to the provis.

And as far as the US being "curious" about how British efforts at talking to the religious fanatics in Hezb'allah will go, it sounds as if our State Department is as clueless as the Brits are. Any idea that we should be talking with them was addressed by Feltman, our former Ambassador to Lebanon and a very effective diplomat. When he says "We see no distinction between the leadership and funding of the group's terrorist, military, political and social wings" he is aware that the funding is almost entirely from Iran as is the training of their militia. Hassan Nasrallah, the terrorist group's leader, no doubt will enjoy the legitimacy granted by the British which should serve him well when elections are held at the end of next month. It cuts secular Lebanese Christians and Sunnis off at the knees who have been trying to convince wavering countrymen that electing Hezb'allah would be the same as electing the Iranian ayatollahs. Now the Hezzies can point to the British (and indirectly at us) as recognizing them as a legitmate political party.

The Brits and the US have apparently decided to throw the Lebanese under the bus. And the consequence will be Iran having a proxy in charge of a government bordering Israel and the Med.